XL Bully Breeds – Everything You Need To Know

xl bully laying down on the grass with a ball between their paws

Recently, new rules came into place in England and Wales that made it a criminal offence to own an XL Bully type dog without an exemption certificate, under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Scotland is also introducing a ban from 23rd February and Northern Ireland is expected to follow.

We’re going to take a look at what this means, and how it might affect some of our customers.

What Is The Dangerous Dogs Act?

The Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced in August 1991; it bans breeds of dogs that are bred for fighting and regulates dogs that could cause a threat to the public. Section 1 of the act outlaws five types of dog and makes it illegal to own, sell, breed, give away, or abandon these types of dogs. The American XL Bully type was added in 2023.

two xl bully puppies on leads

The Ban On XL Bully

On 31st December 2023 it became an offence to:

  • Sell an XL Bully
  • Abandon an XL Bully, or let it stray
  • Give away an XL Bully
  • Breed from an XL Bully
  • Have an XL Bully in public without a lead or a muzzle

From 1st February 2024, it became a criminal offence to own an XL Bully type dog in England or Wales without a Certificate of Exemption. New exemptions can now only be authorised by a court order. In Scotland, the ban will be introduced on 23rd February 2024 and the deadline for acquiring an exemption certificate is 31st July 2024.

How Are XL Bully Type Dogs Identified?

A dog is identified as an XL Bully type based purely on its appearance, for example, the size of their head, their build, height and length. You can see a full list of the physical characteristics that determine whether or not a dog is thought to be an XL Bully type on the UK government website.

Because it is based on appearance rather than, for example, DNA, it doesn’t matter if a dog was sold/re-homed as a different breed; which means that dogs sold/re-homed as an XL Bully may not necessarily meet the criteria, and vice versa.

xl bully standing proudly on grass

Rules For Banned Breed Dog Owners

To keep an XL Bully type dog you need to:

  • Have applied for, and received an exemption certificate. You must follow all the requirements as failure to do so may result in prosecution and your dog may be destroyed.
  • Have them microchipped (the deadline for this is 31st March 2024 if your dog was less than 8 weeks old when you applied for exemption)
  • Make sure they’re neutered (the deadline for this is 30th June 2024 if your dog was more than 1 year old on 31st Jan, or 31st December 2024 if it was less than 1 year old on 31st Jan 2024)
  • Keep them on a lead and muzzled in public
  • Keep them secure so they can’t escape
  • Have third-party public liability insurance
  • Keep the dog at the same address as the certified owner

You can get more guidance on the government website.

Exemption Certificate

The American Bully/Bully XL/Standard Bully/Pocket Bully/Classic Bully type dogs are already on our excluded breed list, so we don’t provide cover for anyone with this breed of dog.

However, if you have a dog that has similar characteristics, and therefore has an exemption certificate, you must send us a copy.

You can email a copy of the certificate, along with your policy number, to us at [email protected]. We will then contact you and issue you with new policy documents. Failure to do so will make your insurance policy null and void.

This can be a worrying time for owners; there is more advice and support available from Dogs Trust, Battersea and The Kennel Club.

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All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. We make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. We will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. We will not be liable for any loss, injury, or damage arising from the display or use of this information. This policy is subject to change at any time.

We offer a variety of cover levels, so please check the policy cover suits your needs before purchasing. For your protection, please ensure you read the Insurance Product Information Document (IPID) and policy wording, for information on policy exclusions and limitations.